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Testing Any Screen Reader on Mac

VoiceOver is the built-in screen reader for Mac, but that doesn’t mean its the only screen reader you can test on MacOS. Assistiv Labs gives you instant access to the most popular screen reader to date, NVDA, and more. All you need is a modern web browser like Safari, Chrome, or Firefox.

No need to buy a PC or set up a complex virtual machine. Sign up for a free trial, no credit card required. Or check out a brief demo:

Demo with audio descriptions.

Isn’t VoiceOver Enough?

If you’re a web developer today, chances are that you use a Mac for work. Mac OS X is popular choice that runs many modern development tools out of the box.

However, it’s very likely that your users who rely on screen readers are using Windows. NVDA, Narrator, and JAWS are some of the most popular Windows screen readers.

Pie chart showing JAWS, NVDA, and VoiceOver taking over 90% of usage.

Testing with screen readers like NVDA and JAWS is especially important because they use a different interaction model than VoiceOver. By default, when browsing the web NVDA uses a “virtual cursor”, which allows you to navigate by heading by pressing the H key for example. In contrast, VoiceOver requires you to hold down the “VO keys”, set to Control + Option by default, to perform the same heading navigation.

Without the VO keys held, key strokes usually are sent to the web page as if VoiceOver weren’t running. However, NVDA and JAWS’s virtual cursor intercepts all keys and attempts to complete the action via accessibility APIs instead.

Because of this difference, it’s not uncommon for a UI to work well after being tested with VoiceOver, but hit major bugs when testing with NVDA, Narrator, or JAWS as they exercise new paths in your code.

Unless you test with more screen readers, you’ll never know!

Getting Started

You can start testing with the NVDA screen reader on your Mac in minutes. Sign up for a free trial of Assistiv Labs and select NVDA from the list of supported assistive technologies. In a few seconds, you’ll be remotely connected to a fresh installation of NVDA running on Windows.

Start a test with NVDA, no credit card required. Plans start at $34/mo.